Rise in assaults on Sheffield’s mental health staff

The Michael Carlisle Centre, Osborne Rd, Nether Edge
The Michael Carlisle Centre, Osborne Rd, Nether Edge
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Staff on Sheffield’s mental health wards have been assaulted more than 600 times in the last year, new figures have revealed.

At Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust, 634 workers said they had been attacked during shifts on inpatient facilities since last April, up from 606 the previous year.

According to the trust’s Quality Account for 2013-14, patients were ‘secluded’ - put into solitary confinement under supervision - nearly 280 times, a big increase on 74 in 2012-13.

Meanwhile 150 patients were restrained by staff, up from 90 the year before, and there were more than 1,130 slips, trips and falls.

Patients self-harmed more than 420 times.

In the report, the trust said the rise in assaults at inpatient sites - such as the Longley Centre in Norwood and the Michael Carlisle Centre in Nether Edge - was down to workers being encouraged to report violent incidents.

The increase in patients being secluded was due to the service ‘caring for more people who have more complex needs’.

“We are seeing more people,” the report said.

“In previous years we sent over 30 people a year to other hospitals when they were acutely distressed.

“Now we are seeing them in Sheffield, which is a positive improvement.”

But the document added: “The current ward environment is not best suited for the care of this vulnerable client group.

“The service has limited options for supporting service users in low stimulus environments.”

Some patients with learning disabilities also needed to be cared for by the psychiatric intensive care service while waiting for a new service to open.

The trust’s chief executive, Kevan Taylor, said there was ‘significant potential to deliver improvements in quality’.

“Our ongoing challenge and commitment is to reflect on what we learn about the experiences of those who use our services and identify how it could be improved,” he said.